October 30, 2016


Bris house in the country

3rd grade Social Studies focuses on regions of the United States.  I love that the teachers start in New England, because as they/everyone knows

It started when I was 4 years old with the book Ox Cart Man, and continued through adolescents with New Kids, the Red Sox, and all the way to college where I spent four awesome years in Burlington, Vermont.

Yes, it's this beautiful....and then it snows 9 months.   This southern girl can't really handle that well!  So, it will always be in my heart, and a beautiful vacation destination, but Massachusetts will be as far North as I ever live again!

I digress....back to the assignment!   We start with a lesson and visuals on atmospheric perspective, overlapping, tints and color of background and sky.  
Rocky Mountains - Albert Bierstadt
Following that we study Grandma Moses and the style of folk art which has very deep foregrounds but still has the correct technique for the atmosphere and background.
July Fourth  by Grandma Moses
The students watch the Ox Cart Man Reading Rainbow Episode - my favorite of all time of course - and look at the illustrations by Barbara Cooney.

Then we begin our painting.  Kids get a limited pallet with two brushes - first flat or round medium brush, then a chubby fat one.  No water.  We go in a certain order so we don't need to wash.  


Using the medium brush, paint a high horizon line with the darker turquoise.  I use Dick Blick Student Tempera.

Paint ground with green.

Paint the background mountain range with the lighter turquoise paint; this one is Crayola brand.  I have them paint the line for the mountains and then fill in, all the way to the horizon line.

Grab some white and mix into the mountains to lighten them up.  The can even create a bit of overlapping here to show different mountains in the range.

Pick up the chubby brush and stipple in fluffy white clouds.

Stipple in a line of orange paint - these are the hills that are in the background but closer than the mountains. They have leaves that are changing colors so that we know it's fall!

Finally stipple in the red and let dry.

Next class we review the illustrations and discuss simple Folk Art style houses.  The kids draw one or two for the foreground and use sharpies for the windows and doors.

After gluing down they paint in a white fence.  We discuss balance of white clouds in the sky, white fence in the foreground; and the repetition of line in the fence.

Our beautiful fall folk art mixed media paintings are on display.  I can't wait for my daughter to get to 3rd grade to paint me one; I've already got the spot for it :)

Happy Autumn!

October 28, 2016


Today I had a professional development meeting with all the art teachers in our district.  We painted shoes.  I bought these pretty blue-green TOMS and I decided on a design I could easily control.  Something with clean lines and simple symmetry so that little mistakes wouldn't be as noticeable, because of course, I really wanted to be able to wear them.

I decided that paper airplanes would be fun and fill those criteria.  Side note - I love paper airplanes as a doodle, but I HATE them in my classroom.  They just look like disrespectful boredom .... I cringe whenever a student makes one!

I used a tiny bit of gesso and Painters paint markers in black and silver for the shading.  I love the way they turned out!

I just love being able to do my own artwork for myself! Happy Friday!

October 22, 2016


In October I always introduce a unit on Vincent Van Gogh to 1st graders.  During the unit we discuss size perspective, line, color, and shapes.

My first lesson is always on perspective and horizon line, reviewing what they learned in Kindergarten.  Then they draw their own version of this painting (Fishing Boats on the Beach) to review size, color, detail and placement on the page.  This always seems to fit in nicely with their classroom study on Columbus because they apparently draw or at least see lots of drawing of ships during that time and are comfortable drawing them!

I like to show them this painting (Fishing Boats at Sea 1888) after they draw and we can imagine so much about this painting!  And check out those waves ... we talk about feeling this painting ... imagine it would be very scratchy...except, no, we DON'T touch paintings in real life!

The second time we meet we look at this painting (Wheatfield with Crows 1890) and talk about how it makes us feel, where the roads are leading too, and why it looks like there are two moons!?  It's a great discussion and since the kids are in a Halloween mood, it fits right in there too!

After that quick discussion we go right to work! Paint pallets are all ready for them, no water, just paint.

We use a limited pallet and discuss why we chose those colors and which order we should go in so we don't have to worry about cleaning our brush - and how we can guess Van Gogh himself didn't do that (if he had washed his brush that moon wouldn't look so green!)

After we finish painting, black oil pastels are used to add the crows.

Aren't they beautiful!

Love painting with kids!  SO much fun and relaxing ... I have the quietest little painters!

What paintings do you like to do with the lower grades?  I'd love to hear and see!

October 16, 2016


These 1st grade collages are inspired by the folk tale Stone Soup.   This is the copy I read to the children, because it was mine from when I was little and my family saves everything....

The objective of this lesson is to listen to a story and illustrate it without seeing any of the pictures.  Most children have not heard this story before so this lends itself to complete surprise.   After each ingredient is introduced, the students create it independently with a variety of construction paper and crayons. 

If ingredient is something they've never heard of or seen - aka barley or cabbage -  we look it up.  Heck, you can't illustrate something you've never seen!  Some students really get into making each vegetable resemble that vegetable, and some decide to chop everything up really well!

Imagine....soup from stones!

October 9, 2016


In our house 'Alison Wonderland' is a big deal. (Yes, we've told her a zillion times its Alice IN Wonderland....)

 For her 6th birthday, my daughter wanted a Mad Hatter/Wonderland themed party.  I may have created a monster one day when I showed her how Pinterest worked.... within 10 minutes she had 40 pins.  At least I knew what she wanted!

Most of the party was created with stuff we already had.  Guests saw the White Rabbit in the garden and this sign on the door.

When the entered each girl was given a Mad Hatter Hat (a headband) that we made.  Except for the birthday girl, the guests each had the same one.  My daughter wanted it that way.  She said she didn't want any fighting.  These were made from felt, ribbon, and index cards.  Headbands were cheap on Amazon.

The girls each chose a small box wrapped in blue ribbon that had a key on a colored ribbon.  Each ribbon was a different color.  This was how they found their seats around the table.  This way, no fighting about who could sit next to the birthday girl!

 I had wanted to have the tea party outside, but due to the hurricane we had rain the day before, cold weather and strong winds.  So I had to move the tea party inside.  I actually borrowed a small kindergarten table my school was throwing away, and 7 little chairs.  It was the perfect size!

We hung lanterns MY DAUGHTER MADE herself from the ceiling.

I really wanted the table to be eclectic.  We used mixed matched paper goods and bulletin board paper for the table runner.  The girls drank lemonade out of my grandmother's coffee cups because they looked more like tea cups than anything I had!

Topiaries were fun to make and I used the extra tea cups my daughter had painted.
The White Rabbit was from the Disney Store.  Great addition to the table.

The girls played Pin the Grin on the Cheshire Cat.

We played croquet outside.  Wickets and flamingos created and cut on my Silhouette machine.

 The girls all had their own cupcakes with a candle and we sang happy un-birthday to them.  Then Happy Birthday to my daughter.  The girls opened presents and then they watched Alice in Wonderland till their parents came.

It was a lot of work but so worth it.  Next year though I'll do the bowling alley!

How crazy do you get for your kids' parties?  I'd love to know!